District scores millions in pandemic relief

The American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress and President Biden, will provide $15.3 billion to California schools to help with pandemic relief. Around $4.7 million of that will go to the Castro Valley Unified School District, adding up to a total of around $11 million in pandemic relief for Castro Valley schools. 

The district is required to use 20 percent of the funding to make up for lost learning and the rest for COVID-related expenses and school reopenings such as providing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and students. There are also deadlines for spending this money a plan must be created and released by June 1. The money must be spent by Sept. 20, 2024. 

“The American Rescue Plan is critical to Castro Valley and all California schools. School budgets are always tight. The new funding will help us to recover from the pandemic, and we are very happy to get it,” said school board President Gary Howard.

The money will help to provide students with proper PPE, more assistance with mental health, and summer school. It may also be used to improve heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and hire more staff. It will also go towards helping homeless students and groups more heavily impacted by the pandemic.

“Any infusion of money is welcome. Our fiscal team will certainly be strategic in how funds are spent to best support students in ensuring health and safety and access to academics. Ultimately, fundamental education funding that is continuous and reliable is a better solution for public education,” said school board member Dot Theodore.

School board member Dolly Adams explained some downsides of one-time expenses “Ongoing money that you can count on is generally more liked. It’s hard to budget with one-time money,” she said.  

One-time large donations like this rather than smaller consistent amounts makes it hard to budget especially when wanting to implement new programs and hire more staff.

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